Eagles Wake-Up Call: Doug Pederson Not Worried About Sam Bradford’s Playbook Knowledge
When the Eagles face the Vikings this weekend, the Birds will be going up against a team who has a quarterback that is very familiar with Philadelphia’s playbook. Sam Bradford spent the entire offseason preparing to be the Eagles’ starter under center before being traded to Minnesota just eight days before the start of the 2016 NFL season. Now Bradford will get the opportunity to beat his former team on Sunday.
Working in Bradford’s favor is that he’ll be able to share the knowledge of Doug Pederson’s playbook with Minnesota’s coaching staff. One could figure this gives the Vikings an edge, though Pederson doesn’t seem too worried about it.
“Back a few years ago, Donovan [McNabb] was in Washington when we played him and we had a pretty good day,” said Pederson. “So listen, I’m not going to change anything. Will we tweak some stuff? Yes. We still have to get ready. This is a great football team coming in here. They are undefeated coming off a bye. Sam has obviously a good understanding and knowledge of what we do on both sides of the ball.”
“I think where it becomes valuable for a coach when a player knows you is just knowing personnel. I think just understanding the types of guys that are here. He’s been a teammate for a couple years here. I think that becomes more valuable than the Xs and Os. If I know Sam, and I know the quarterback position, he’s got to get ready for this defense and get himself ready to go, as well.”
Pederson’s point about McNabb is fair, but there are some key differences between that situation and this one. First, McNabb was traded in the spring of that year, not just days before the season. Second is that Bradford and the Vikings are playing much better than Washington was with McNabb, who eventually got benched.
Bradford is playing the best football of his career. Through four starts, the 28-year-old quarterback has completed 70.4% of his attempts for 990 yards, six touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a 109.7 passer rating. So far, he’s certainly been worth the 2017 first-round pick and conditional 2018 draft selection the Vikings traded to Philadelphia in order to get him.
At the same time, the Eagles aren’t really missing Bradford. The Birds have been just fine with Carson Wentz at the helm. The 23-year-old rookie quarterback, who has already won NFL Rookie of the Week three times through his first five starts, has looked special. He’s unquestionably shown the makings of a long-term franchise quarterback.
Pederson was always very vocally supportive of Bradford during the veteran’s time in Philadelphia. Despite the Eagles’ trade up to the No. 2 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft to get Wentz, the Eagles were always publicly committed to Bradford as this year’s starter. Pederson is still singing Bradford’s praises even though the quarterback is no longer on his team.
“Everything I’ve seen and worked with Sam and how well he picked up our offense here and the execution he had throughout training camp,” said Pederson. “You are seeing a lot of the same concepts offensively with them that we did here. He’s a sharp kid, a smart kid. He’s a very accurate thrower. So I’m not surprised. He’s got great — he didn’t go to a 1-15 team. He went to a playoff caliber team with a tremendous defense, so that helps as well.”
Pederson sure isn’t wrong about Minnesota’s defense. The Vikings are allowing the fewest points per game (12.6) and yards per play (4.4) in the NFL. This kind of defensive performance is making life easy on Bradford. It’s also making life very hard on opposing offenses.
The Eagles will have a tough time cracking this Vikings defense. Philadelphia failed to score a touchdown in Week 6 against a Washington defense that is much less impressive than the one Minnesota boasts. The Eagles couldn’t adequately protect Wentz, who got hit 11 times and sacked on five occasions. Halapoulivaati Vaitai will once again be starting at right tackle for the Eagles so there is still plenty of concern about Philadelphia’s offensive line.
Bradford knowing Pederson’s offense won’t do the Eagles any favors, but it shouldn’t be the Eagles’ biggest concern this weekend. The Birds have plenty of execution errors that they need to clean up in order to win games. They’re currently committing too many penalties, dropping too many passes, missing too many tackles, etc. Simply playing with more discipline might not enough to beat the undefeated Vikings, but it would be a good start.
It goes without saying that Minnesota will be the toughest challenge the Eagles have faced so far this year. Mike Zimmer’s squad is the only undefeated team remaining in the NFL. Making matters more difficult for the Birds is that the Vikings are coming off their Week 6 bye. The Eagles, meanwhile, are coming off two straight road losses. They should be desperate to put the losing streak to an end in order to avoid falling too far behind in the NFC East standings.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Three Eagles numbers that mattered from Sunday’s loss to the Redskins.
“The first month of the season offered a chance to fall madly in love. Now the fan base needs to settle in for the long haul.” What They’re Saying.
After being a top-10 team last week, the Eagles fell a few spots in this week’s NFL Power Rankings.
“But by no means have I or will I at this point, make any decisions on that side of the ball right now.” After two bad games on defense, Doug Pederson won’t intervene with Jim Schwartz‘s defense just yet.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
The Eagles have been a second half team, but as Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com writes, they need to have better starts to games.
In the first half this year, the Eagles have scored 59 points and allowed 59 points.
In the second half, they’ve outscored their opponents 76-19.
They are only the ninth team in NFL history — and fifth since 1967 — to get through Week 5 having scored 70 or more second-half points and allowed 20 or fewer second-half points.
So far, the Eagles have been outgained by an average of 187 yards to 152 in the first half, only to outgain their opponents by an average of 187-107 in the second half.
The Eagles didn’t give up any touchdowns in the second half in Washington, but they did allow a 57-yard run from scrimmage to Matt Jones, a play that clinched the win for the Redskins.
“We didn’t fix the mistakes in the second half,” Malcolm Jenkins said. “They still ran the ball really well in the second half. We got a stop late to give ourselves a chance and we did a little better.”
PhillyVoice’s Jimmy Kempski explores whether or not the Eagles will make a trade before the trade deadline.
There’s no denying that Howie Roseman loves to wheel and deal. This year alone, not including far more common draft-day trades, Roseman has made a whopping six trades, noted below:
- They traded Eric Rowe to the Patriots for a conditional 2018 4th-round pick.
- They traded QB Sam Bradford to the Vikings for a 2017 1st-round pick and a conditional 2018 4th-round pick.
- They traded OT Dennis Kelly to the Titans for WR Dorial Green-Beckham.
- They traded LB Kiko Alonso, CB Byron Maxwell, and the 13th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft for the 8th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
- They traded DeMarco Murray and a 2016 4th-round pick for the Titans’ 2016 4th-round pick.
- They traded Mark Sanchez to the Broncos for a conditional 2017 7th-round pick (that will not change hands).
The Eagles have been involved in three trade deadline deals since 2009 (although I couldn’t find any prior to that):
- 2013: They traded NT Isaac Sopoaga and a 2014 6th-round pick to the Patriots for a 2014 5th-round pick.
- 2010: They traded RB Mike Bell to the Browns for RB Jerome Harrison.
- 2009: They traded WR Brandon Gibson and a 5th-round pick to the Rams for LB Will Witherspoon.
The Eagles will more likely than not roll with what they have the rest of the way, but certainly, if there’s a front office person who is willing to make deals, it’s Howie Roseman.
Doug Pederson will meet with the media at 10:30.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.